My Top-10 Bond Films

I’ve gotten reaqquanted with the James Bond films recently and decided I should out my favorite Bond films to the world. I don’t have a favorite Bond actor personally, I like them all for different reasons and also because they are all different. Of course certain characteristics and established traditions get repeated, but as long as a Bond actor is true to his own style I don’t mind. Anyway, here are my Top-10 films of the famous MI6 agent with a licence to kill…

10. From Russia with Love

The first three Sean Connery Bonds really established the most solid run of Bond movies in my opinion. From Russia with Love is also one of the most truest adaptions of Bond novel to screen and some even consider it Connery’s best film. I won’t go that far but I definitely enjoyed the decisively different feel this Bond movie gave me. It has fantastic locations and some of the best dialogue I’ve seen in a Bond movie, a lot of that stemming from the fact of how closely it sticks to its origins. What’s even more interesting is that it’s not even all that action-oriented but still keeps you interested, a mark of a quality spy film.

Conversely though, I’d also say that you can tell too clearly that this Bond is based on a novel. The pace is quite slow and there are times when the movie may feel a tad stretched out. However, this isn’t really my main criticism but rather, ironically, that the ending seems a tad sudden and rushed.

Still, I consider it a must-see, especially for anyone who loves Sean Connery and James Bond.

9. The Living Daylights

If you ask me, Timothy Dalton is one of three Bond actors who has never been in a bad Bond film. Living Daylights admittedly is not a timeless master-piece in the vein of his later Licence to Kill, but it’s certainly one of my favorite Bond films. The movie is such an obvious product of the 1980s, from the cheeky comedy to the cheesy action-scenes right down to the cheesy theme song composed by Norwegian pop group A-Ha.

At times this movie is so tongue in cheek, it’s almost unbearable, but it actually has a good structure and even a mildly interesting storyline, though admittedly they let the cat out of the bag and kill some of the suspense a little too early. Still, the movie is really entertaining, it has one of the few Smersh Spiornom references in the whole movie-series, a serial-killer with his own low-key theme music, John-Rhys Davies and Bond riding a cello case across the Polish border.

It also has a secret service agent getting killed by a door, which was perhaps the dumbest moment from this or any Bond film…

8. Dr. No

When I saw Dr. No for the first time, I was surprised at how competent it was for being the very first film in the Bond series. The film is genuinely suspenseful and action-packed, yet still manages to establish the Bond tropes and clichés effectively. Sean Connery does it all in style and really sets the tone for all other Bonds to follow.

Some of my favorite things in this movie includes its location, Bond figuring out Dr. No’s plots ahead of time using sheer smarts rather than elaborate gadgetry, excellent character moments, a memorable villain and one of the best Bond girl names of all time: Honey Rider.

It’s also painfully obvious that the film is a product of its day, but I’d say the Space Race setting is actually fairly compelling material in its own right. Dr. No still has room for improvement but is extremely competent for an early Bond film which is why I have to rank it this high.

7. Die Another Day

Pierce Brosnan was the Bond actor I grew up with and whom I tend to think of when I think of Bond. In my view, the brilliantly dry, witty yet sincere Irish actor didn’t get to star in nearly enough films. Dia Another Day was his fourth film and also his swan song for the role, but thankfully United Artists pulled all the stops on Brosnan’s final endeavour.

It has the longest and unquestionably the best opening sequence in a Bond film, a title sequence that actually advances the plot rather than stopping the movie dead in its tracks, Brosnan in a cool hobo beard, exotic locations, Halle Berry as the Bond girl, a surprisingly competent cameo by Madonna and epic action-sequences.

The plot is undoubtedly a little weak, though has some nice elements to it, but the novelty factor, the nods to past Bonds (due to the film being an anniversary flick as well) and the entertainment value are so high on this one that it’s easily my second favorite Brosnan Bond film. However, it was sadly the first one without the late Desmond Llewellyn as Q which always makes me really sad.

6. The Man with the Golden Gun

Okay, so Roger Moore may not be my favorite Bond actor, I still respect him as an actor and a person – and I still enjoy his extremely dry and cheesy sense of humour as Bond. There is no question of course which is my favorite Bond film by him. How could anyone pass up a chance to see Bond and Christopher Lee fighting it out?

This is also probably one of the funniest Bond films, but it still has some genuine tension evident in Moore’s early Bonds which I like. Herve Villechaize as Nick-Nack is one of my favorite Bond henchmen and Clifton James reprising his role from Live and Let Die really contributes to the entertainment factor on this one.

Plus, even though I used to hate it, I now can’t get enough of the iconic theme song by Lula. “He has a powerful weapon, he charges a million a shot, an assassin that’s second to none, The Man with the Golden Gun!” Nuff said.

5. Goldfinger

I guess it’s no surprise that Goldfinger is my favorite Sean Connery Bond film. It’s the first Bond film with Connery I saw and it left a permanent impression. It has too many iconic moments to count but generally speaking its the most well put-together of his early Bond films.

It has a villain with one of the most iconic villainous lines from any Bond film (“…no Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”), one of the best Bond henchmen (Oddjob) and the absolute best Bond girl name of all time: Pussy Galore.

Auric Goldfinger is also noteworthy in that he was a deviant from the general SPECTRE story angle that dominated the Bond films. The film’s plot, pace and action-scenes are all top-notch and its a thoroughly enjoyable experience. This is the golden standard to which all Bond films should strive for.

4. Casino Royale

Out of the two Bond films that Daniel Craig has been in, I still have to rank his debut in Casino Royale as his finest. Here is where we literally meet a new, fresh Bond and a completely different type of film from Bonds past. Sure, the film may be dark and not nearly as tongue-in-cheek, that doesn’t mean the movie hasn’t got any humour or levity, quite the opposite.

Apart from Craig’s gruffer Bond, Mads Mikkelsen is excellent as LaChifre. One of the best villainous role performances of the past decade. The film also brings back the more spy-film like atmosphere and keeps the suspense up really well.

The film also deserves credit for finally adapting the first Bond novel and doing it properly. At the same time, I do miss some of the series traditions like Q and Moneypenny, but all in due time. Craig’s third Bond is coming out next year and I’m certainly looking forward to it.

3. GoldenEye

It’s sad that Pierce Brosnan could never top the awesomeness of his Bond debut, but at least he gave a timeless classic to the franchise. GoldenEye walks a delicious line of a film set in the post-Cold War era, but still using that atmosphere in a great way. Brosnan combines the boyishness of Connery with the dry sarcasm of Moore and comes out super strong because of that.

The film has everything I love: Russians, destructive satellites, bullet trains, double-crossing agents, secret lairs and an epic showdown atop a giant satellite dish, with Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean beating the crap out of each other.

There generally are very few faults in this movie. Some of the comedy is a little too cheesy perhaps and the plot doesn’t quite match the seriousness of some of the other films on the list, but this film has a solid pace, iconic scenes and a great cast. What more can you honestly ask for?

2. Licence to Kill

Licence to Kill is a movie that never got the respect it deserved. It’s first truly dark and gritty Bond film. For once, James Bond is not on a mission from MI6, he is out for simple and unapologetic revenge. Despite this, the film still has a suspenseful atmosphere and a down-to-earth feel which is what’s always appealed to me.

With Robert Davi as the villain, it gives this Bond a more serious feel with a villain that has gravitas and therefore doesn’t need massive doomsday devices to make his point. David Hedison returns as Felix Leiter, the first actor to have ever reprised the role, and Desmond Llewellyn is just priceless in the film.

I can’t honestly fault the movie for much. It’s got a great plot, a great setting, a great cast and one of my favorite theme songs from any Bond film. It was instantly one of my favorite Bond films and one of my favorite movies of all time.

It just flat-out rocks!

1. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Nothing says under-rated quite like George Lazenby and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Lazenby may have only starred as Bond once, but to his credit never did so in a bad film. In fact, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service became my favorite Bond film instantly.

Now yes, Lazenby wasn’t perhaps the most iconic Bond actor, but the poor guy was following Sean Connery and never had a chance to try again – so what do you expect. I’d say he does a decent job and it helps that the plot of this Bond film is one of the best written in the whole franchise. It has the sort of spy-film atmosphere and feel that the Connery films were beginning to lose with films like Thunderball.

Besides the setting and the storyline, we mustn’t forget that this is the immortal film where Bond got married and had his wife shot by the villains only minutes later. It’s the single most tragic moments in a Bond film and simultaneously one of the best finales, as Louis Armstrong’s We’ve Got All the Time in the World plays over the credits.

If you’ve missed this film, you seriously need to give it a watch. Bar none, the Best Bond Film of All Time.

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